Fourteen smoke detectors. It might actually be fifteen, but I don’t feel like walking around and counting, so I’m going with fourteen.

There are fourteen smoke detectors in our new home. Of the fourteen, three of them were missing batteries and the hard wires were cut. I know there were teenagers living here sometime before we bought the house. I have no questions about whether or not they were smoking in their bedrooms and hiding it from their parents. The only question I ponder is what were they smoking? Of the eleven remaining, three units were actually missing and only the plate remained in the ceiling. Of those left, we doubt they worked, wondered if the batteries were twelve years old, and know they were not CO2 detectors as well. So they all needed to be replaced. At almost $50 a shot, let’s just say it’s been an expensive week of home renovation projects where not much actually gets renovated.

We knew this was going to be a great renovation. This is a ‘the bones are great’ kind of house. But it has lacked loved and been abused for a long time. The previous owners might have been a tad pissed off when their million-dollar home was only valued at 60% of their original price. Then, even more pissed off when their remaining loan was not renegotiated again…for the third time…or something like that. So when they finally gave up and decided to tuck their tails and move on, they ripped out every light fixture, which they had to replace with a cover or a light. Our bedroom is currently housing an outdoor birdcage-like fixture. They ripped out built in bookcases. They stopped loving and caring for he home. The previous owners put us in a position we love. We are technically forced to change everything about this house instead of looking at something and saying it exists, it works, let’s not change it yet. We have to change everything. Including at least fourteen C02/Smoke detectors. And aren’t we glad we did because we learned some of the wires were cut in a few of them? Talk about safety – or not safety.

When we moved in, we had already had a demo team come out to remove all the floors except in four bathrooms. So when we are in some of the bathrooms, we at least have tile below our feet. There is one bathroom, however, where we did have the tile removed. Except the one tile under the pedestal sink and the one or two tiles sitting under the toilet. Going in that bathroom feels a lot like using a port-a-potty inside a barn.

Before the kids and I moved into the house, my husband removed the dishwasher, which he said had mold growing on the inside that looked to be about twelve years old. I never saw it. It quickly found a new home inside a contractor’s dumpster. And we’ve been hand washing dishes since day one here. It’s great for the kids to rough it a bit. I grew up hand washing dishes, and I think I believed it was my payment for the food I was given. My kids hate it. Maybe when we install our new appliances, we’ll tell them the dishwasher doesn’t work.

The first week we were in the house, I noticed a utility room often smelled like vomit. Lovely, yes? I have three children, two dogs, and two cats. We are all very familiar with the smell of vomit. The kitchen has two garbage disposals. Evidently one was draining right into a utility sink each time we used it. After replacing the disposal which my husband said looked disgusting and probably hadn’t worked properly for years, he had to snake all the plumbing and replaces some U traps…or something like that but in plumber’s lingo. The following week the bottom of the sink cabinet was flooded again. Again. And then again. Something was leaking. We learned the filtration system that lives under the sink isn’t working. And the something else or another that also lives under there is also not working. But what was leaking was the faucet. So for about $80 he bought a new faucet and replaced the old one with a temporary new faucet. Maybe we can use this new one in the utility room once the kitchen is overhauled.

We might have a working kitchen again.

One that is always covered in dust. But working.

The dust is another issue. I’d love to say the house is dusty because it’s located in the desert of Arizona. I’d also love to say the house is dusty because we renovating it.

But the reality is the house is dusty because when our contractors removed the floors, they also removed the gypcrete (gypsum concrete) from the subfloor leaving countless particles of concrete dust settling everywhere….probably also in our lungs.

Each time we want to use the kitchen we have to wipe down every surface. We’ve been using a shop vac to help, but it’s still here. And it won’t fully go away until we finish the floor…oh and repour new gypcrete.

The pool has been another issue altogether, but luckily for us, we found a fantastic pool chick who is here every week if not more often to clean it, diagnose it, and repair it. We weren’t surprised when she told us we needed a new motor for the pump because the last time it was replaced, the previous own replaced it with a motor too small for the job. We still have some minor issues to fix on the pool, but she had it up and running and chemically balanced before the kids and I arrived. That made moving day easier for us because the kids spent about fifteen hours swimming while we unloaded the truck and tried to figure out how to live day by day in a home lacking. I call it camping. I know camping is much worse. But I also know camping can be even more fun. This falls in between the two kinds of camping. We have a roof over our heads. We have four A/C units, that all work….except for that one day and the minor repair to follow. We have working smoke detectors. Our outlets mostly work. We have lights….even if they look like bird cages. We have beds off the ground and we have seating and electronics. We are more fortunate than many.

And we have a very large project ahead of us.

Each day we jump in doing something.

Today we may end up taking the stone off this wall:

stonewall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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